Our growth has always been more about continuing to educate ourselves, an education which we, in turn, pass on to those seeking experience. We have always been satisfied with what we have, and we have resisted the enormous opportunities to build something bigger, despite the dollar signs floating all about us. We chose a path which favoured quality of life over money, and we are proud to say that while we will never be millionaires, we are lifestyle millionaires! While others have spent so much of their time chasing the almighty buck and acquiring “stuff,” we, a family of five, have chased each other. Now, in times as tumultuous as this, the success of our strategy has become even more evident than we thought it to be in the first place.
There will always be a place for the little guy. That’s us. Giants may fall and their businesses may fail. We just need to be sure they don’t land on us if and when they do.
With health and travel restrictions in place since the start of the pandemic, many businesses realized the importance of having a strong digital strategy – easy-to-navigate websites, user-friendly e-commerce opportunities, and staying connected with customers on social media. What was the best new digital strategy you implemented (or saw implemented) this year?
I may come across as being partial, but I thought that the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada’s “Virtually yours” campaign was absolutely amazing, from the campaign they developed for more conventional means like television, to the shorter breakout pieces that they shared across all social media platforms.
The way the Indigenous peoples of this land now called Canada wanted to ensure Canadians that they would make it through these uncertain times and that we, the original people of the land, would be waiting for them on the other side, was an excellent message. A soothing message.
It spoke at first to the heart of Indigenous Tourism, which is us, and then how our hearts went out to them.
It was a message that carried with it a feeling of solidarity, for all Canadians, which is a powerful message when it comes from a group of people who, for so much of our shared history, have been compromised by those we believed we were going to share the future with. Equally.
What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?
My hopes are that Indigenous Tourism’s role will continue to grow and that it will eventually become the full partner it should be, taking its rightful place alongside Travel Alberta as leaders in Alberta’s Tourism economy. The Jasper Tour Company will continue to promote not only itself, but more importantly, as we always have, other experiences around the province that align with our sensibilities.
How can industry work together to recover and build even stronger post-pandemic?
Partnerships are key to the success of the industry’s recovery and furthering Alberta’s Tourism profile post-pandemic, but only if they are meaningful and reciprocal.
It starts with leadership at the highest levels, and it trickles down from there. Travel Alberta has caught a big fish in David Goldstein. Just as ITA has in Shae Bird. ITAC has Keith Henry. They’re all keepers. Don’t throw them back. All these people understand and are huge proponents of the power of Indigenous Tourism.
One of Shae Bird’s strengths is that he stays in touch and is up-to-date with even the smallest operator in ITA’s catalogue, and he ensures their voices are just as loud as the biggest players. It is courteous and shows a level of concern and respect not often seen in other organizations and it’s a wise move for one as young as Mr. Bird.
I have great respect for that as it’s not something I’ve seen a lot of here in the industry. I understand how important it is for bodies who promote tourism to keep in step with the biggest players, but I cannot stress enough that harmony from the top to the bottom is still paramount.
It is my opinion that the industry would do well to be more harmonious than it has been in the past.
What is the most important thing you want Albertans to know about the value of the province’s tourism industry?